So a little over a year ago there was a movie version of Red Riding Hood released in theaters. I remember seeing some of the ads for the movie and thinking that it sounded pretty interesting. Cut forward to a couple of weeks ago before I went down to Baton Rouge for the USBC Open. I wanted to bring my iPod, but didn’t have a charger for it other than my laptop. What I did have was a gift card to Best Buy that my younger brother had gotten me for Christmas. So I went up there to purchase a wall charger, which cost about $20, my gift card was for $30, so I decided to go through the movie section, found Red Riding Hood, remembered thinking it looked pretty cool, so I bought it.
In hindsight that was probably a poor decision.
I don’t talk about movies often on my blog, mostly because I haven’t been watching any new movies recently. But since I watched this one, I figured I’d talk about it.
To begin with, I absolutely loved the premise of this movie. Most of us know some version of this story, whether it’s the Grimm’s Fairy Tale version, the Bugs Bunny version(s), or whatever, we’ve all heard the story. What a lot of people don’t know is that original Grimm’s Fairy Tales were often very dark stories, and I was intrigued by the idea of a darker remake. (That said, I recently purchased a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales from Barnes & Noble, and read the story of Red Riding Hood before I started this post, and it wasn’t a terribly dark story.)
Unfortunately, the premise of the story was about as interesting as the movie got for me. There were far too many things about the movie that really annoyed me. The first thing that set me off was the camerawork, which actually annoyed me before we even saw any of the characters. The opening shot is an interesting aerial shot of the forest around the town where the story takes place. Unfortunately the camera starts to twist and bend in ways that actually cause the shot to be a little nauseating. And it just gets worse from there. One thing that this movie does constantly is make use of a handheld camera. I can’t think of a single movie where that works out well, it’s a gimmicky shot that just doesn’t work. Use a tripod or a steady-cam people, they’re there for a reason.
Another thing that annoyed me was that they forced a love triangle into the plot. Love triangles can work, it can cause a great amount of tension in the story, and it can create fanatical fanbases, unfortunately, it’s also really easy to screw up. If it’s going to work, it really needs to come across as though both sides of the triangle are viable options. In the movie, the person Valerie loves is presented as being mysterious, brave, and capable, but also very poor, so of course her parents refuse to let her marry him. Of course the person she is engaged to is more well off in the world, but isn’t shown to have too many likable qualities early on. It just didn’t seem – authentic at all.
There were too many times when the movie felt like it was trying to be in two different time periods at once. The movie is set in a pseudo-medieval European village. There were quite a few times when the dialogue came across as sounding far too much like 21st century English slang rather than medieval English. I would have preferred had it been that way constantly, as opposed to showing up just often enough to irritate me.
There were also too many moments where aspects of the characters or the world came across as not fitting in with the overall setting. Once again, pseudo-medieval Europe, roughly 1600’s. There were too many times when the women in the movie accept being objectified in one scene, only to spend the next scene discussing 20th century women’s liberation issues. I’m really not trying to sound like a jerk when I say this, but I don’t care either way how you want the characters to act, but PICK ONE. There was another huge anachronism in this movie that annoyed me to no end. We’re setting the movie in a fictional world based around a folktale, check. Would the villagers in the movie really act out a scene from another folktale within our world. Probably not. But wait, it gets better. What other folktale do they use – the Three Little Pigs. That’s right, in a world where werewolves actually exist, they tell stories in which wolves are laughably incompetent, complete with the “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!” Pick ANY other story, just not one that has a wolf! Any story told in this village about wolves would be cautionary tales about how wolves are deadly monsters, not that they can’t break down houses! And my last rant about that part, if you’re going to talk about how the house made of bricks is the safest, have the houses of the villagers in the movie be MADE OUT OF BRICKS! Ok, moving on to another topic.
The werewolf in the movie, when you finally see it, is big, standing on all fours, it’s looking people in the eye. Throughout the course of the movie you’re shown several people who have been killed by the werewolf, and their corpses look relatively untouched. If a werewolf is big enough to look people in the eyes while standing on all fours, when it takes a swipe at you, it’s taking your head off. If you wanted to shy away from the gore to avoid getting an R rating, don’t show the corpses, because it’s yet another thing that knocked me out of the story.
Throughout the entire movie, I was in turn annoyed, frustrated, angry at the characters, confused by the camerawork, and questioning the dialogue. That said, there is one saving grace for this movie. The ending was far superior to the rest of the movie, even if I thought it was very poorly foreshadowed. You’re constantly pointed away from the actual villain, which makes it seem like a big twist, but it’s almost completely impossible to see the foreshadowing for the twist without already knowing it. You don’t walk away saying “I should have seen that coming” like you do for a well foreshadowed twist, it’s more of an “Ok, I guess that works.”
It’s a very interesting premise, and the last 5-10 minutes were quite good. Unfortunately, it’s a train wreck getting there.